Fandom: Howl's Moving Castle (book)
Word Count: 805
Disclaimer: I own nothing! The characters belong to Diana Wynne Jones.
Warnings: Sexswap (not genderswap!)
For effingeden at comment_fic
He woke up covered in flower petals.
"Mmmf," said Howl, lifting his head off the pillow. He stuck his tongue out and picked off a little green leaf. "Well, this is one of the more interesting ways to wake up. Is it our anniversary, Sophie dear?"
There was an absence of reply; Howl turned to see Sophie's side of the bed (left, closest to the door) empty, save for a kaleidoscope of white, purple, and scarlet petals strewn over the sheets. They littered the floor surrounding the bed, too.
"Blast it," grumbled Howl. He swung his feet out of the covers and sat up. "I do get enough of these things at the shop. I don't see why my bedroom has to remind me of work. It goes against the principle of the thing."
Howl slipped on his cashmere robe, the one Sophie turned up her nose at for it's "impractibility," and disappeared into the bathroom for his morning toilette. He fully intended to remain there until that damn sun didn't look so tackily bright...
The small ginger man by the sink let out a hearty squawk and jumped ten feet. Howl grabbed at the doorknob, astonished.
"Well," he said. "This is one of the more interesting way to wake up. I admit, it's been a while since I've had a strange man in my bathroom -- university, first year, so not that long ago -- and really my good man, I must ask you to leave. My wife and I have an arrangement--"
"Shut up, Howl!" cried the man. He clutched at the front of his robe (one of Howl's, actually) and looked near tears. "I am your wife! It's me, Sophie!"
"Oh, that wife," Howl couldn't resist saying quietly. "You get into fascinating conundrums, Sophie. I am in awe of you. At least you aren't wandering the countryside this time, flashing those ravishing legs at poor excitable farmers."
Sophie reddened. Howl was delighted to see she looked just as bewitching angry in her male form as she did in her original. Really, his Sophie, Howl thought fondly. Never did anything by halves.
"This robe was the only decent thing I found in our room," Sophia said icily. "I was not about to go to Michael and borrow from his closet!"
"No," said Howl, critically sizing up Sophie's new body. "You wouldn't have found anything that fit. You're much broader in the shoulders than he is, after all."
Sophie sat down on the edge of the bathtub. Subconsciously, she crossed one leg properly over the other. Howl sighed silently, disappointed -- he'd just been curious, really. Sophie kept her fiery English beauty in this form; her hair had shortened yet remained a vibrant red-gold, and one couldn't help admiring the firm muscles in her bare calves.
"I don't even know what happened," Sophie said. "I woke up, covered in those damnable flower petals, and as a man! No explanation!"
"There has to be some," Howl insisted. "Come now, Sophie, think. Did you offend any other witches recently? Accept inexplicably delicious-looking fruit from strangers? Made a wish on a monkey's paw?"
"What?" asked Sophia, bewildered. "Where would I get a -- Howl, could you be serious please? I haven't done any of those things, you know I haven't."
Suddenly a memory seized Howl, and he snapped his fingers. "Wait. What about that spell? The one you were helping Michael with, last night?"
"What spell? The one with all that awful pronunciation?" Sophie frowned, cupping a strong chin in her hand. "That was a locating spell of sorts. It wasn't meant for transformation."
"With Michael's bloody terrible pronunciation, I'm surprised he didn't turn you into a turnip," said Howl. "Well. I'll be scouring the books this evening, I expect. We should have you restored soon enough."
"How soon?" asked Sophie anxiously.
Howl put out his hand and Sophie took it, letting him pull her to her feet. "Soon enough," he said. He smoothed his thumb down Sophie's cheek. It was slightly rougher; Howl anticipated discovering all the differences and similarities he could until someone finally came up and knocked on their door. Then he'd send them away and start all over again, to make sure he hadn't missed anything. It looked to be quite a pleasurable afternoon.
"Howl," said Sophie, her eyes taking on a warning glint. "You better not be thinking what it looks like you're thinking."
"Now, Sophie," said Howl. He drew her in by the waist and his hands drifted down. Feeling mischievous, he bit her bottom lip sharply. "You know I'm quite depraved."